Coalition Files Lawsuit to Challenge Revised Hours of Service Rule

The federal rule for truck driver hours of service (HOS) still fails to make needed improvements to protect the public from tired truckers and should be subjected to judicial review, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen, the Truck Safety Coalition, and two truck drivers in a lawsuit filed on February 24 challenging the new rule.

In the lawsuit, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the parties seek judicial review of the final HOS rule issued on December 16, 2011, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), arguing that the final rule failed to reduce the 11-hour limit on consecutive driving hours to 10 hours, despite the agency’s statement in the proposed rule that “the 10-hour rule is currently FMCSA’s currently preferred option” because it would be most effective in reducing driver fatigue. “Although FMCSA had no data to support its adoption of the longer 11-hour limit in 2004, it decided to stand by that mistake even though it comes at the cost of numerous additional fatigue-related crashes,” according to the plaintiffs.

They also said the new final rule fails to eliminate the 34-hour restart provision “that encourages cumulative fatigue and allows drivers to exceed weekly driving and work limits.” That provision, first instituted in 2004, reduces the off-duty time drivers are allowed from 48 or more hours to 34 hours off-duty after driving up to 70 hours and working more than 80 hours over eight days. Changes included in the December 2011 final rule do not prevent those who work on a schedule of 70 hours of driving in eight-days, from continually using the short and unacceptable 34-hour restart every week, or being required to do so by their trucking company, said the plaintiffs.

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